Discovery Puts Atlas on Its Shoulders

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Promotional support behind Discovery Atlas, Discovery Communications’ $65 million multiplatform look at some 30 nations over the next few years, will heat up this week in advance of the project’s Oct. 1 linear launch.

The first two-hour installment, Discovery Atlas: China Revealed, bows Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. (EST/PST), and it will be followed on Sundays next month with journeys into Italy, Brazil and Australia.

The project will also be on display online and on broadband, including via video on Google Earth (earth.google.com); through a number of educational initiatives; and at Discovery’s retail-store network.

The project will also spotlight the natural beauty of these lands, their people and their cultures through the HD format, as director’s cuts will debut simultaneously on Discovery HD Theater.

Discovery Channel senior vice president of marketing Julie Willis said the print and TV ads behind Atlas will include messaging noting the HD presentations. Moreover, Discovery executives -- who view Atlas as a project fulfilling the “true promise of HD” -- will host a number of affiliate screenings in the enhanced format around the country this week.

Willis said the print and TV creative, developed in-house, centers on “ambassadors” -- the everyday people Discovery chose to filter its presentations of these countries through. For instance, viewers will get a look at Brazil in part from the perspective of a female helicopter pilot.

She added that the media plan behind Atlas also includes a heavy online presence, plus such first-time components as 20-minute aural podcast tour of Chinatown in New York from Antenna Audio, which Discovery purchased earlier this year.

Discovery also sought to build awareness for Atlas via 60-second spots that have been running on Screenvision. Those brand-building spots on the movie-theater network will now give way to four minutes of hosted content, including trivia questions about the countries that will be showcased on the series.

Although she declined to identify the media value of the campaign, Willis said the depth and breadth of the media promotional support across various vehicles is “unprecedented” in the company’s history.

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